704. In giving humans the desire to live, has God always provided them with the means of doing so?
“Yes, and if they do not always find the means, it is because they do not understand them. God would not instill the love of life in humankind without giving them the means to live, and God has created Earth so that it is able to produce sufficient means for all its inhabitants. Only that which is necessary is useful, while superfluous are never useful.”
705. Why is it that the Earth does not always produce enough to provide the human race with what is necessary to live?
“Because human beings are ungrateful and neglect to make fruitful use of Earth’s bounty! Nevertheless, she is an excellent mother. They often accuse nature of what is truly the direct consequence of their own nearsightedness. If human beings could simply be content with what is necessary, the Earth would always provide it. If it does not provide for all their wants, it is because humanity use Earth’s resources to supply luxuries when they should be setting them aside to supply necessities instead. Look at the example of Arabs in the desert. They always find enough to survive, because they do not create artificial needs. When half of the Earth’s products are squandered in gratifying impulsive wishes and demands, should humans be astonished when they run out, and do they have any reason to complain if they are poorly equipped when scarcity strikes? I repeat: nature is not careless, but humans do not know how to control their use of her bounty.”
706. Should we understand the ‘fruits of the Earth’ to mean the products of the soil?
“The soil is the fundamental source of all other products, which are only transformed versions of the products of the soil. As such, the term ‘fruits of the Earth’ should be understood to mean anything that human beings enjoy in their physical lives.”
707. There are always individuals who lack the means to survive, despite living surrounded by abundance. Who should be blamed for this?
“At the selfishness of humans, who too often prevents them to do what they need. Next, and most often, the individuals themselves are to blame. Christ said, ‘Seek, and you shall find but these words do not imply that all you have to do is look down on the ground to find anything that you may want. You must search for what you want passionately and with perseverance, without being discouraged by obstacles that are often only a means of testing your determination, patience, and resolve.” (See no. 534)
While civilization increases our needs, it also increases our resources and means of survival. However, we must confess that there is much that still needs to be done. Civilization will achieve its task only when human beings no longer lack the necessities of life, unless this is through no fault other than their own. Unfortunately, many individuals choose the wrong path and, because nature has not intended it for them, they fail – that is when they lack the intelligence to succeed. There is room for everyone, but each person must assume his or her own place, and not that of another. Nature cannot fairly be held responsible for the effects of a flawed social organization, nor for those of personal selfishness and ambition.
We would have to be blind, however, if we did not acknowledge the progress that has already been accomplished in this direction among the most advanced nations. Philanthropy and science have focused on the betterment of humankind and despite an increasing global population; they have managed to minimize the effects of insufficient production dramatically.
Today, the most unfavorable years of an economic cycle are far less disastrous than in the past. For example, hygiene, which is a critical point for public and individual health, and of which our ancestors had little or no knowledge, is a constant subject of scientific research and investigation. Likewise, refuge is provided for the unfortunate and suffering, and every new scientific discovery is made to contribute to the general well-being of all. May it be said that we have attained perfection? Oh, certainly not. But what has been accomplished is just a glimpse of what may be done, with perseverance. Human beings must focus on seeking practical improvements, instead of wasting their energy on idealistic projects that set them back rather than pushing them forward.
708. Are there any social situations in human life when the will is incapable of obtaining the means of existence, and in that case, the deprivation of the most fundamental necessities is a consequence of such circumstances?
“Yes, but this would be a trial that the spirit was aware of having to endure. The merit of individuals involved in such a trial will be based on their surrendering to God’s will, if their intelligence does not free them from their troubles. If death occurs, they should accept it without complaint, remembering that their hour of true freedom has arrived, and that yielding to despair at the last minute, no matter how little, may cause them to lose the reward of their prior resignation.”
709. When, during extreme crisis, where human beings are forced to consume the flesh of other human beings to survive, are they committing a crime? If so, does the fact their action is based on an instinct of self-preservation lessen the crime?
“I have already responded by saying that there is more merit in undergoing life’s trials with courage and resignation. In these cases, human beings resort to both homicide and commit a crime against nature. This results in dual culpability that receives dual atonement.”
710. In worlds where the physical makeup of living beings is purer than on Earth, do these beings need food?
“Yes, but their food matches their nature. Their food would not be enough for your basic stomachs and those beings could not digest your heavier food.”